Overview of Montana de Oro Beach

Montana de Oro Beach

California Mid
USA West


This beach is a nice destination for the day-- plenty to see for a two-tank dive. The underwater scenery is quite rocky, especially around the point where fish, abalone and crab abound.

Directions: If coming from Highway 101, take the Los Osos Valley Road exit to the North (3 miles South of San Luis Obispo). If coming from Morro Bay, take the Bay Blvd exit South from Highway 1, and turn right on Los Osos Valley Road. Los Osos will merge into Pecho Road. After the merge, drive for 3.8 miles to the park entrance.


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Diver Reviews:    Click here to write a Site Review, and share any new information about this site!

09/19/2020 Hannah Rempel (Avg: 4.50 Review) - Great site when conditions allows. There's beautiful fish schools, kelp, and playful seals. That said, I only recommend diving here when there are low wind and waves and if you're experienced with navigation in temperate waters. Otherwise, if you're really interested in diving here but less experienced, talk to a local dive shop and a guide can take you when the winds are calm. Difficulty: I would strongly discourage novice divers and those without experience navigating in low viz, current conditions from diving here. For more experienced temperate water divers, this is a terrific site for the area when conditions allow. Facilities: there's a parking lot with a bathroom. Entry: I like to dive the south side, so after parking it's a little trek across the beach, but you can follow the reef structure out and into the adjacent 'Smuggler's Cove', then follow along that to the southern lip of the cove where there's often beautiful fishes and other critters to see.

03/20/2010 Adam Murphy (Avg: 4.27 Review) - Well I see it's been a while since anyone has left a comment on this site. Today's dive was amazing! Had about 20+ feet of visibility, and there was plenty to see! We actually dove 2 tanks it was that good! We first started out on the left side and swam the whole reef. Saw numerous types of crab, lingcod big enough you could ski behind. Just a great dive! Second dive was a little more surgy on the top, but once we dropped down it wasn't bad at all! We did see a 4ft tiger shark that a crab was eating which was pretty sweet! I had heard a lot of bad things from the dive team about this site, but it pulled thru today! Amazing!

10/07/2008 Jeremy Bonnett (Avg: 4.20 Review) - I have dove Spooner's Cove several times this year. It's sort of a hit or miss place. It can be really an amazing dive with lots of plant and animal life. On a couple of my dives I saw schools of perch in the 100's. However, divable days can be rare. The cove is fairly shallow and if there's any hint of waves it's best to go elsewhere. If conditions are calm, stick to either the north side or the south side. There's nothing but sand in the middle.

03/05/2008 Jimmy (Avg: 1.46 Review) - I had heard some decent things about Montana de Oro, and they were all false. There were large, capsizing waves coming in all day. Water was very murky, with strong current, and very difficult to get in. The site had less than 1' vis. Swam all the way out past the point on the left side hoping for some better vis. Dropped down to the bottom (avg 30' - 40'), with about 1' vis. There was also a strange current out there; it took over an hour to return to shore. But, having said all that, if the waves were smaller that weekend, it would have been an easy place to enter and exit, sandy shores. I wouldn't recommend it though. Head up north for better vis.

11/24/2007 Brian Xavier (Avg: 3.78 Review) - Dove Montana De Oro a few days ago. Really nice shore entry and the possibility of a great dive, but no vis at this time. Went toward the point on the left side of cove and the vis was about one foot. With a five foot swell the cove was pretty flat, but the water was still very murky. Look to return on a day when the swell has been about 3 feet for four or five days, and then I think the diving will be great. I also think this would be a great kayak dive site.

08/01/2005 Kendall Roberg (Avg: 3.94 Review) - Also known as Spooner's Cove, this is a great site for all scuba levels. We went out on the left side towards the middle of the bay. Visibility was about 12 feet but I have heard reports of visibility being up to 30 feet (also down to 1 or 2 feet). We followed a rock formation out a few hundred yards until it ended and opened to a huge sandy bottom. We saw millions of tiny shrimp and small jellyfish eating them. Some of the best plant life I have seen; healthy, lush bull kelp and others nice plants. This location is often foggy, but you might have luck with the fog lifting in the afternoon. Crowded in the summer and deserted the rest of the year. Overall a great site with lots to see!

06/19/2005 Eric L (Avg: 3.50 Review) - I've logged many dives here and have to say it's one of my favorite dive spots in the SLO area. I've seen swell sharks, surf perch, rock fish, lingcod, cabezon, thornback rays, and even jumped a halibut here. Night diving can be adventurous here but watch out for the rangers since the beach closes early (we got in trouble last time). Dive the left wall and far left corner of the cove for some awesome rock formations. If you head straight out on the left side of the rock, you may come across a large boat anchor in ~20ft. The surf is always low but the vis varies (0-20ft).

04/20/2004 Matthew Johnson (Avg: 4.11 Review) - I dove this site two days in a row. 1st dive, no surf. It looked like a lake and the vis. was great at 25ft. Lots to see, strong surge though. Next day, big waves on the beach, ZERO vis. undiveable. Great dive spot when conditions are right. Look for the old ship anchor in the middle of bay 400 yards out.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: CM0501


Parking at Montana de Oro Beach 

Plenty of beach side parking, with facilities in the background. The entry is about 100 yards away.




Overview at Montana de Oro Beach 

Looking back toward the beach, there are several choices for entry, including the two channels here or the beach beyond.


 Map     Sat
GPS: CM0503


Entry at Montana de Oro Beach 

The rocky channels should only be attempted during periods of calm. Otherwise, stick to the sandy beach to the left. Remember that the beach opens to the West-Northwest, so you can expect swells. If you have experience 'reading' the Pacific ocean, you'll be able to time your entry and exit. If you aren't comfortable in these conditions, find a local guide to help you out.

Last Verification: July, 2001  


Diver Averages for  Montana de Oro Beach  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  3.88
Bottom Conditions:  3.75
Reef Conditions:  3.88
Animal Life:  3.75
Plant Life:  3.75
Facilities:  3.13
Solitude 3.38
Roads:  3.88
*Site Average:  3.72

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  3.38
Beginner Scuba:  2.75
Intermediate Scuba:  3.75
Advanced Scuba:  3.38
Night diving Scuba:  2.75

Number of reviews for this site: 8


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